The Gig Harbor Tides kept Peninsula’s sophomore sensation and Oregon State commit JaQuori McLaughlin in check on Saturday night as the Tides cruised to a 60-27 win over their crosstown rivals in front of their home crowd.
Senior guard Ryan Rychard finished with 22 points and four 3-pointers, and junior Casey Gearhart added nine points to lead Gig Harbor.
McLaughlin didn’t manage many clean looks at the basket and finished with just 10 points.
“He’s a really good player,” Tides head coach Billy Landram said. “We tried to focus on him. We were playing a bunch of teams, so we didn’t even get a scouting report in until this morning. Our kids get excited to play just as much as theirs.”
The Tides led 32-14 at halftime, and Peninsula never closed the gap.
“We played with a lot of energy and just fought hard and won the game,” Gearhart said.
Gearhart said the gameplan was to key on McLaughlin, even if they went to a zone.
“Chris Drake did really well, and I think we did a great job against him,” Gearhart said.
While the game lacked competitiveness this time, it didn’t lack excitement as students and fans from both schools packed the Gig Harbor High gym.
“It means a lot, just for the fans and just to show them a good time,” Gearhart said.
Gig Harbor was more focused and efficient on the offensive end.
“We’re getting better and better at realizing what it is we want out of each possession, and working harder to get it,” Landram said.
Meanwhile, the Seahawks forced several shots.
“The game is a big deal,” Peninsula senior Nolan Winter said. “We were all amped up, and we started forcing shots. Our mental game was just down and got down from there.”
Winter also acknowledged the atmosphere may have played a role in their lack of success, at least in the beginning of the game.
“Obviously in a rivalry, everyone wants to win,” Winter said. “Everyone is out here to go to battle. I think you just have to flush the jitters and play the game. We came out a little too amped up and excited to play.”
While the Tides enjoyed the win, they were looking ahead to what’s next.
“It’s a fun game to win, but we’re more focused on our league and trying to pursue our goals,” Landram said. “It’s a good rivalry, it’s fun, but we’re moving on to the next game now.”Sports reporter Jon Manley can be reached at 253-358-4151 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @gateway_jon.